Federal Industry minister Ed Husic has thrown his support behind Australian innovators, vowing to give early-stage firms that advance the national interest a leg up to avoid shipping our best ideas offshore.
In a keynote address at the InnovationAus 2022 Awards for Excellence on Thursday night, Mr Husic joined in celebrating Australia’s innovation success stories after a turbulent couple of years due to the pandemic.
“It is important as a country that we celebrate smart’s, knowhow and what you are doing to contribute to advancing this country in the way that you do. It means a great deal,” he told the 450-strong audience at the Cutaway in Barangaroo, Sydney.
“To be able to have people be nominated in this way, celebrated in this way, and for you all to come together in this way, is no small thing. It is a big thing that we should be celebrating more and more, and I’m absolutely determined that we do that.”
Mr Husic said Australian innovators have “a big role to play in helping us reimagine and get things done” but stressed that celebrating knowhow would not just “be about words” for his government in the years ahead.
“When I say to you, we want to celebrate knowhow, can I just emphasis to you all, this is not just going to be about words, but this is going to be about deed as well,” he said of the government’s plans.
“We are going to bring in and introduce in the next few weeks, one of the biggest co-investment funds this nation has seen to support your ideas and that is going to happen as well with the National Reconstruction Fund (NRF).”
The NRF is an ambitious $15 billion off-budget fund, modelled on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, that will use a combination of loans, equity, co-investment and guarantees to invest in projects that help grow the economy and build sovereign capability in seven priority areas.
The government is planning to introduce the legislation underpinning the fund to Parliament before this year’s Spring sitting ends, meaning it will have to be introduced either next week or the week after.
But Mr Husic said the commitment to industry would not end there, with the government seeking to maintain Australia’s global competitiveness, particularly in areas where the country has a distinct advantage.
“We are going to do a number of things to be able to assist you in helping the nation longer term, and we are committed to doing that in so many ways,” he said, alluding to the Future Made in Australia Office and the Buy Australian Plan.
“And also, thinking ahead and not being behind the curve on things like, for example, quantum technologies, where we punch above our weight and do so well.
“So, making sure we’ve got a national quantum strategy, a national robotics strategy, feeding that into the NRF so we can have those investments made, so you never have to feel that the only place where you will get that support to grow your firm… and advance interest is by going offshore.
“We’re going to do it here. We’re going to do it with you, and we are going to back and make sure that is a reality.
“If we get these policies right, they reflect something. Not a metric, not a KPI, not some sort of political slogan.
“They reflect belief on who we are as a people because it reflects our ability to get things done and that we don’t have to wait for someone else offshore to think of the next solution to our problems.
“You can do it. I’m going to put you to the test.”
The InnovationAus 2022 Awards for Excellence celebrated the product successes of local innovators across 13 categories, from HealthTech to Advanced Manufacturing, from software to Defence capability.
The top award of the night, Australian Hero Award, was awarded to Samsara Eco for its outstanding contribution to Australian capability development. The Sydney-based recycling startup also took home the Energy and Renewables Award.
Samsara Eco has developed a plastic-eating enzyme that can break plastic back down to its core modules, meaning it can then be used by manufacturers to produce brand new plastic items. This effectively creates an infinite recycling cycle.
The InnovationAus 2022 Awards for Excellence were supported by: Investment NSW, AusIndustry, Australian Computer Society, Technology Council of Australia, Verizon, Mimecast, Microsoft Australia, Digital Health CRC (DHCRC), Agile Digital, METS Ignited, Innovation Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC), CSIRO, and Q-CTRL.
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Ed studied to be a journalist. That means he’s quite good at nice words. He can say and write all sorts of nice things. Yay Ed! But mate, it’s not important as a country that we “celebrate” smarts. You can party all you like (other people are paying for your drinks). What’s important is doing things. Given that the only thing the APS does is spend taxpayers’ money – no offense but that’s all bureaucrats can actually do – it has to spend that money the right way. But you’re doing nothing on that front. We can innovate things in Australia, but the APS won’t buy them. We can make things in Australia but the APS won’t buy them. So, thanks Ed, but until you buy things from Australians instead of foreigners it’s just a lot of nice words. Really nice words sure, but just words. (Spoiler: Ed isn’t a fund manager either. He did journalism, not finance. Just saying.)